By Drew Turney
Itâ€™s getting harder to get excited about yet another big budget fantasy film. With their other-worldly animal characters, epic climatic CGI battles and socially resonant subtexts that try and appeal to adults, itâ€™s hard not to see them as Lord of the Rings cash-ins, each more thinly disguised than the last.
So itâ€™s with trepidation many viewers may go to see the latest entry in the Rings-lite-for-tweens genre, Prince Caspian.
Unfortunately, if youâ€™re of that ilk the film does nothing to convince you otherwise. That thereâ€™s almost no action, CGI, fights or special effects for almost half an hour will confirm that Disney and Adamson have overestimated the audience, not realising theyâ€™ll mostly be kids with short attention spans who are there to see talking animals, special effects and action.
The film takes itself far too seriously, interspersing the political intrigue of a civilisation called the Telmarines with the Pevensie childrenâ€™s return to Narnia.
A Prince to the Telmarine thrown, Caspian â€“ played by Ben Barnes who appears to have stepped straight out of a Calvin Klein poster â€“ is marked for death in the race for power and flees, blowing the magical horn that will bring the Pevensie children back to Narnia to save the day as prophesised.
They arrive to find itâ€™s been 1,300 years since the time of the White Witch, and they have to remarshal the depleted Narnians and lead them into battle against the invading Telmarines, leading straight to the same tired, climatic CGI battle.
On the way there, weâ€™re treated to the same angst and soul searching by the children â€“ much of it at the hands of Aslan, who seems to go out of his way to be enigmatic and confusing. Plus there are asides like the imminent rebirth of the White Witch that ultimately go nowhere. Is it story, or padding?
A lot has been written about the maturity and darkness of the script, the underlying themes of sacrifice, leadership and faith. You might be interested enough to see these aspects and more, but if youâ€™re an adult who likes to see things in movies youâ€™ve never seen before, itâ€™s just as likely youâ€™ll be checking your watch when itâ€™s barely underway.
There’s the customary stuff, like commentaries and featurettes on the making-of-the-movie, but there’s some really nifty bonuses too – like a piece on the terrific Warwick Davis, the pint-sized star of “Narnia”, “Harry Potter” and, of course, “Return of the Jedi”.